Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Baked Chicken Parm

One of my favorite menu items at Italian restaurants is chicken Parmesan.

I’ve ordered it at any number of restaurants either locally or while traveling. There’s something extra delicious about the combination of breaded chicken and marinara sauce topped with melted cheese and served over a bed of spaghetti. My mouth waters just thinking about it!

I’ve often made a shortcut version, topping breaded and fully cooked frozen chicken patties with spaghetti sauce and mozzarella and Parmesan cheeses and baking until the sauce starts to bubble and the cheese to brown. It’s been a favorite and easy weeknight meal for my family for years.But Saturday night, I wanted to make a different version.

I know how to make traditional chicken Parmesan and have made it several times, starting with dipping chicken breasts into an egg mixture and rolling in bread crumbs, then frying in olive oil. But I wanted to try a baked version this time.

There are so many baked variations. If you do a Google search of chicken Parmesan recipes, you will get more hits than you’ll ever want to read through! Some recipes don’t bread the chicken cutlets at all, just bake with sauce on top, adding the cheese towards the end of baking time; other recipes coat the chicken with egg and bread crumbs before baking.

Here’s what I did.

I bought thin chicken cutlets because I don’t like to flatten chicken breasts. There were four in each of the two packs; four were very thin and the other four were meatier.

I brushed two 13X9-inch baking dishes with olive oil and did the same with the chicken breasts before rolling them in Italian seasoned bread crumbs mixed with freshly grated Parmesan cheese. I placed the cutlets into the pans (thin in one pan and thicker in the other) and baked them until they were almost cooked through. It took twice as long for the thicker ones to cook.

I poured a jar of marinara sauce on top then sprinkled on cheese and let them bake. While they baked, I cooked a pot of spaghetti.

I served the chicken Parmesan with a green salad and garlic bread, and my family gobbled up the meal.

This recipe was well received at home. It was easy to make, and I will probably make it again soon. The next time I make it, I will put aluminum foil over the chicken for part of the baking time to make it a little more tender.

Baked Chicken Parmesan
  • 8 thinly sliced chicken breasts
  • Olive oil
  • Salt and pepper
  • 1 cup Italian bread crumbs (more if needed)
  • 1 cup freshly shredded Parmesan shredded, divided
  • 2 cups grated mozzarella cheese
  • 1 jar marinara or spaghetti sauce (1 pound 8 ounces)
  • Box of spaghetti, cooked according to package directions
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Brush 2 casserole dishes with olive oil. Season chicken breasts with salt and pepper if desired. Brush breasts with a little olive oil.

Mix bread crumbs and a 1 tablespoon Parmesan cheese and pour on a plate. Roll each breast in bread crumbs; place in casserole dishes. (I had 4 very thin chicken breasts and 4 thicker breasts. I placed the 4 thin ones in one pan and the thicker ones in the other pan.) Bake for 10 minutes, turning the chicken breasts after 5 minutes. After 10 minutes, I removed the pan with the thinner breasts and repeated the 10 minutes of cooking with the thicker breasts. (Next time I might cover the breasts for part of the cooking time to make them more tender.)

Once the chicken is cooked or almost cooked, spoon marinara sauce on top of each breast and top with mozzarella and Parmesan cheeses.

Bake for 15-20 minutes until marinara sauce bubbles and cheese melts.

Serve over spaghetti.


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